William Lane Craig Exposes Robert M. Price – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIm7xNecGZ4

William Lane Craig Exposes Robert M. Price – YouTube.

This 31:26 video clip is excerpted from a debate on the resurrection of Christ between William Lane Craig and Robert M. Price.

From 19:09 to 24:14, Craig addresses Price’s contention that belief in the resurrection of Christ had its origins in pagan mythology.  In doing so, Craig explains how Price’s theory emanates from the “history of religions” school of thought that rose during the turn of the century (19th to 20th) and was since abandoned.  From 24:15 to 30:02 Craig addresses Price’s contention that 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 is an interpolation and was not part of the letter than Paul originally wrote.  Craig uses evidence both external (24:15 to 26:20) and internal (26:21 to 30:02) to the biblical text to disprove Price’s contention.  Included is a brief, but effective, reconciliation of 1 Corinthians 15 with Galatians 1.  That is, Craig explains how Paul states in 1 Corinthians that he received the historical confession of the resurrection of Christ from the other apostles but the understanding of its import (i.e. “his gospel”) from the Lord Himself (26:21 to 27:04)

Paul L. Maier on the Empty Tomb – Apologetics 315

“If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”

– Historian Paul L. Maier

via Paul L. Maier on the Empty Tomb – Apologetics 315.

Minimal Facts Approach to Christ’s Resurrection – Gary Habermas

An audio clip (4:01) on YouTube.

From the YouTube description:

Gary Habermas is able to argue persuasively for the real, historical death and bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth using only those facts that 95% of critics concede. In other words, using the facts about Jesus that virtually all scholars agree upon, Dr. Habermas is able to establish the historical reality of the resurrection.

via Minimal Facts Approach to Christ’s Resurrection – YouTube.

James McGrath on the Early High Christology Club

In this post –The Early High Christology Club – James McGrath comments on Larry Hurtado’s earlier post on the subject.  I got involved in the comment thread here, for the sake of seeking to learn more precisely how Dr.McGrath himself viewed the Christology of the earliest disciples.   This is as far as he was willing to go in that exchange:

Again, these are questions that require long answers. Since the author of the Gospel of Matthew seems to have known the Similitudes of Enoch, and so may well have thought of the Messiah having pre-existed in heaven. But that isn’t taken literally, and nothing in that work suggests that Jesus is not thought of as a human being like others, however miraculously conceived and however much authority he may be given. In the Gospel of John, however, we see the idea being taken literally. My own view is that this results from conflicts about Jesus as revealer if heavenly things, which motivated some Christians to begin to take such language literally and draw literal implications from it in a manner that they had not previously.

That’s just a small section of a much bigger picture…

Thom Waters’ A-F Sequence of Events

This post is an answer to Thom Waters’ request here, to react to his posting of this A-F list here.

A–Jesus was crucified.

Agreed.

B–His tomb was discovered empty of his body.

Agreed.

C–Resurrection became an explanation for the tomb being empty.

Here you go astray.  While your chronological sequence is correct, you are implying a logical sequence that is not required.  Note, for example, that the believers to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 knew about the empty tomb, but did not conclude that this implied Jesus’ resurrection.  Only when He identified Himself to them and declared His resurrection did they begin to think in those terms.  Thus Jesus’ resurrection appearances chronologically followed discovery of the empty tomb but were not caused by it.

D–There were no claims to any appearances of the Risen Jesus prior to the tomb’s discovery.

Why would there be?  Jesus rose from the tomb on the third day.  The women went to the tomb at sunrise on the third day.  For Jesus to have appeared before then would have him appearing before the third day rather than on the third day.

E–One person, Peter, began to claim to others that Jesus had appeared to him.

That’s not what we read in Luke 24.

F–Stories about other appearances began to circulate, although we don’t have much first hand evidence as to what others actually claimed about these appearances. They are simply anecdotal in nature.

We know that they claimed He was alive.  And that is the central point.

Thus your A-F sequence is a combination of some facts and some innuendo, arranged to imply your thesis: that Peter made up the resurrection story and convinced enough others that the entire Christian movement originated from this deception, and that Jesus was not raised at all.  Taken together, it’s insufficiently factual and insufficiently plausible.

And you still haven’t told me why you think the Bible is reliable when, for example, it says that the tomb was empty but not reliable when it says Jesus appeared to the disciples.

Tim O’Neill and “When Prophecy Fails”

I have written previously on Tim O’Neill’s theory about the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (first see Response to Tim O’Neill’s Answer to the Question, “What Evidence Exists for the Resurrection of Jesus?” on Quora and then see More on the Tim O’Neill Theory That the Resurrection Story “Evolved”).

In this post, I want to show just how inappropriate was Tim’s use of When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter.  In the first chapter of this book, “Unfulfilled Prophecies and Disappointed Messiahs,” the authors themselves bring up the subject of Jesus’ resurrection and ask whether or not their theory explains Christianity’s origins.

The authors compare the record of Christian origins to the five conditions necessary for the application of their theory.  Here are those five conditions:

1. A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.

2. The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual’s commitment to the belief.

3. The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.

4. Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.

The first two of these conditions specify the circumstances that will make the belief resistant to change. The third and fourth conditions together, on the other hand, point to factors that would exert powerful pressure on a believer to discard his belief. It is, of course, possible that an individual, even though deeply convinced of a belief, may discard it in the face of unequivocal disconfirmation. We must, therefore, state a fifth condition specifying the circumstances under which the belief will be discarded and those under which it will be maintained with new fervor.

5. The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence we have specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, we would expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselyte or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.

These five conditions specify the circumstances under which increased proselyting would be expected to follow disconfirmation.

Regarding the origin of Christianity, and specifically, the faith of the disciples in Jesus’ resurrection which propelled them to spread their message in Jerusalem and throughout the known world, the authors conclude that while the first two and the last conditions were met, they are in doubt about the third and fourth.  The doubt has to do with whether or not messianic prediction, and therefore apostolic expectation, called for the messiah to suffer…or not.  For those who say that the Messiah could not suffer, the crucifixion would have constituted disconfirmation of the prophecy regarding Jesus.  For those who say that either the Scriptures themselves, or Jesus’ interpretation of them (as in Matthew 16:21), prophesied that Messiah would suffer, then the crucifixion would have constituted confirmation, not disconfirmation.  Since there is controversy on this point, and because the majority of scholars, according to the authors, hold to the latter view, the theory cannot be applied to the resurrection of Christ.  Thus the authors conclude:

Was it or was it not a disconfirmation? We do not know and cannot say. But this one unclarity makes the whole episode inconclusive with respect to our hypotheses.

If the authors of When Prophecy Fails declare that their theory is inconclusive with regard to Jesus’ resurrection, why then does Tim, or anyone else, dare to suggest that it is?

Book quotations taken from: Festinger, Leon; Schachter, Stanley; Riecken, Henry W. (2010-11-12). When Prophecy Fails.  Pinter & Martin. Kindle Edition.

More on the Tim O’Neill Theory That the Resurrection Story “Evolved”

My first post on Tim’s theory can be found here.  I want now to elaborate.

First, some more background:  Tim’s theory can be found in his Quora article, “A Story That Grew in the Telling,” which is his answer to the question, “What evidence exists for the resurrection of Jesus?”  Tim also makes reference to his theory in the comment exchange following Vitali Zagorodnov’s (much shorter) answer to the same question.  My own answer to this question can be found here.

As stated in my previous post, the dating Tim variously ascribes to the New Testament documents is by no means a settled issue. While there is widespread agreement that seven letters of Paul (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon) are probably the earliest New Testament documents and can be confidently dated to roughly 50-60 AD, there is no such broad consensus on the dating of the remainder of the New Testament documents.  There are a significant number of scholars who believe Mark was written before Matthew and Luke, and that those three gospels were written before John – but that’s not to say that those same people would agree with the dating that Tim gives for each.  Moreover, it’s not as though the rest of the New Testament documents have nothing to say about Jesus’ resurrection.  Thus Tim’s argument is based upon a dating scheme which is tenuous.  Nonetheless, I do not believe his argument is sound even if his dating scheme turned out to be valid.  Therefore, for discussion’s sake, I want in this post to proceed on the basis of accepting Tim’s dating of the documents and show that his thesis still will not hold.

Tim’s thesis is that Jesus’ resurrection is an idea that “most likely developed and evolved over time.”  More specifically, he believes that “this idea developed from an abstract one into one of a more concrete, physical revivification.”  Tim begins by trying to demonstrate that Paul’s view (circa 50’s AD) of Jesus’ resurrection was contradictory to later views found in the gospels (circa 70 AD and later).  He attempts to draw a sharp distinction between Paul’s description of “a spiritual body” with what he calls the “revivified corpse” of Jesus presented in the gospels.  Tim wants to claim that Paul’s perspective would allow no physical encounters such as the gospel writers depict.  However, this dichotomy is of Tim’s construction.  The text doesn’t convey it.

Paul does not describe the sort of encounter that the gospels do because he wasn’t around during that forty-day period between resurrection and ascension that the original disciples were.  Paul came to faith a few years later – and everyone knew that.  Thus the details provided by gospel writers were just that – details about their own experience with the risen Lord.  Having been with Jesus during the days of His flesh, and in the forty-day period between His resurrection, they could well be expected to have a different experience from Paul.  However, the gospels in no way contradict the key points that Paul was proclaiming.  On the contrary, they reaffirmed those key points: that Jesus was raised from the dead to the right hand of God and from there was conducting His operations until He would come again in judgment.  It was perfectly reasonable therefore that Paul’s interaction with the risen Lord would be of a different nature than those of His earthly disciples.  It was, however, the same Lord, risen to the same place, exercising the same authority.

The most frequently quoted Old Testament verse in the Bible is Psalm 110:1.

Psalm 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

This verse, or some recognizable portion thereof, appears in the following New Testament locations:

Matthew – 22:44; 26:64
Mark – 12:36; 14:62; 16:19
Luke – 20:42; 22:69
Acts – 2:33, 34; 5:31; 7:55, 56; 
Romans – 8:34
1 Corinthians – 15:25
Ephesians – 1:20
Colossians – 3:1
Hebrews – 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2
1 Peter – 3:22

Note that Romans and 1 Corinthians are dated to the 50’s AD, and are testifying this point consistent with the rest.  Thus the New Testament documents clearly declare that Jesus was raised to the right hand of God.  This was the central point.  That is, Jesus’ resurrection was all the way to heaven, and all the way to the right hand of its throne.  If Jesus had only been raised to earth, His resurrection would have been an interesting novelty.  It is that He was raised to be “Lord” that was significant…and there is no variation among New Testament writers as to this fact or its importance.

Sure, if the seven uncontested letters of Paul proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection, the rest of the  New Testaments books can be said to have added details.  However, the addition of details doesn’t change the main point that Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 15 (circa 53-55 AD):

1 Cor 15:1-11 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

See that Paul’s testimony is completely consistent with that of the apostles, right down to the fact that Jesus appeared to Peter and the twelve well before He appeared to Paul.

Note again the last sentence of the 1 Corinthians 15 passage above.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the bold and unwavering declaration of the New Testament.  To suggest this  idea evolved from an abstract state to a concrete state is a theory without evidence.